The mouth of the Tana river. PHOTO: Aslak Berge

40,000 pink salmon invade the Tana river

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Enormous numbers of invasive pink salmon have spawned in the important Tana river system. The reason is that Norway and Finland have not reached a joint management agreement.

“Our counts in the river at Polmak, a few miles up the watercourse, show that 40,000 pink salmon have swum up in the Tana to spawn, said deputy head of the Tana’s fisheries management, Benn Larsen to NRK.

He says that in tonnes there is almost twice as much fish as they expect from the local Atlantic salmon.

Invaded
When pink salmon invaded Norwegian rivers in the past, especially in northern Norway, it hit eastern Finnmark particularly hard. Great efforts were made to take out the pink salmon, but the same did not happen in the Tana.

Pink salmon. Photo: Ørjan Solheim

The reason was that the Norwegian and Finnish authorities, who together manage the Tana, could not come to an agreement. The Tana, or Teno as the watercourse is called in Finnish, is shared by Norway and Finland.

“We could do nothing but sit and watch how they did volunteer work in the other rivers. We in Tana were not allowed to do anything in practice.”

Unexpected
Tana is regarded as one of the most important spawning areas for Atlantic salmon. But in recent years, the salmon stock in the watercourse has been alarmingly low, and in April this year, Norway and Finland agreed to introduce a total ban on salmon fishing in 2021.

However, the protection of the watercourse had an unexpected effect. This gave the pink salmon a free path up into the watercourse.

“We are very concerned about the situation. It may look like the Tana can become a hatchery for the banned salmon, and that is not good,” said senior adviser in the Norwegian Environment Agency, Sturla Brørs.

Tana. Photo: Aslak Berge